India captain Virat Kohli has “laughed off” speculation that video footage from the first Test against England in Rajkot could have depicted him ball-tampering.
The pictures of Kohli with what might have been a small mint in his mouth, before then shining the ball with saliva, were interpreted by some as evidence he was indulging in the same practice which landed South Africa captain Faf du Plessis with a full match fee fine.
Unlike Du Plessis, who is appealing against the International Cricket Council verdict that he breached its code of conduct in his team’s series-sealing victory over Australia in Hobart, Kohli faced no inquiry – because the governing body’s stipulated five-day window in which to start any proceedings had already passed when the video came to light.
As India completed preparations for the third Test in Mohali, with a 1-0 lead following their win in Vizag, Kohli questioned the timing and nature of allegations which arose after the footage was spotted by a South African journalist.
“I’m surprised the issue of what I’ve been told came up in Rajkot, but there was no mention until the result in Vizag,” he said.
“To me, a newspaper article doesn’t matter over the decision of ICC. We as cricketers respect that only.
“Allegations and speculations? Someone told me, and I laughed it off.”
Kohli does not intend to be deflected from his task in hand – to convert India’s series advantage into an unassailable lead over the next five days.
He added: “Some people are trying to take the focus away from the series – good luck to them. But we’re totally focused on what we have to do. If was doing something (wrong), ICC would have spoken to me.”
India were forced into one change to their winning team, with Parthiv Patel replacing the injured Wriddhiman Saha as wicketkeeper.
Kohli has great respect for the ability of Buttler who knows these conditions well, against the white ball at least, from his experience with Mumbai in the Indian Premier League.
Buttler has, however, played just one first-class match since he was dropped from England’s Test team mid-series against Pakistan last winter.
“I think he started well,” said Kohli. “He carried his limited-overs form into Test cricket.
“I was actually surprised to see him left out after a couple of bad series.”
Buttler has continued to prove himself one of the world’s best limited-overs batsmen.
“He’s a very talented player,” added the India captain.
“We’ve all seen him do very well for England, (and) we all saw him do really well in Bangladesh as well during the One-Day International series where he showed composure.
“So we know he’s a quality player.
“We understand his potential and we’re quite aware what he brings to the table.
“We’re not thinking it’s a decision made in panic.”